NTA issues RfP seeking support in RTDF utilisation

Kathmandu, August 26

Nepal Telecommunications Authority (NTA) has invited request for proposal (RfP) from six short-listed international firms to help it assist in devising plans to utilise the Rural Telecommunication Development Fund (RTDF).

The authority has provided time of 45 days to the short-listed firms to submit their technical and financial proposals.

The selected consultant will work closely with NTA and define models for different types of services, recommend business cases to deliver telecom services in rural areas and determine implementation and monitoring plans, and support in procurement, among others.

The six firms — Delta Partners Strategic Investment Services (Singapore), the United Arab Emirates-based French firms Sofrecom SA and Arthur D Little Middle East FZ-LLC, United Kingdom’s Laurasia Associates Ltd (in joint venture with Atlantic Telecoms and Media Ltd, and Commonwealth Telecommunications Organisation), ICRA Management Consulting Service (India) and Cisco Systems Services (The Netherlands) — were shortlisted by NTA from 13 international firms that had submitted expression of interest to be its consultant.

“We recently issued RfP to the six firms, asking them to submit their proposals by October 5,” said Achyuta Nanda Mishra, assistant spokesperson for NTA.

He said that since NTA is already considering implementing a few projects by utilising the RTDF, the selected consultant would be responsible to identify the rural areas and technologies to expand telecom services there by investing the resources from the RTDF.

The Telecommunications Act 1997 requires all licensees of NTA to contribute two per cent of their annual income from services to this fund, which was established 18 years ago for development, extension and operation of telecom services in rural and remote areas, where service expansion is not commercially viable.

So far, the fund has collected more than Rs 10 billion, which has hardly been utilised owing to legal complications and procedural delays, among other reasons.

By the end of the first quarter of the current fiscal year (mid-October), the size of the fund is expected to surge beyond a whopping Rs 11.5 billion, since telecom companies and internet service providers are yet to make contribution to the fund from their income of last fiscal year. As per NTA rules, the contribution should be made within three months after a fiscal year ends.

In the current fiscal year, NTA plans to utilise Rs 1.48 billion from the fund for projects, including ‘District Optical Fibre Network’ and ‘Connect a School, Connect a Community’ and broadband infrastructure development in new settlements of 14 districts that were most affected due to the April and May earthquakes. Apart from these projects, the government has been mulling over utilising the fund for projects like ‘Making ICT Accessible for the Disabled People’ and ‘Establishment and Operation of Mobile Tower with Mandatory Provision for Sharing’.